Background: Previous studies of occult bacteremia in febrile children have excluded patients with recognizable viral syndromes (RVS). There is little information in the literature regarding the rate of bacteremia in febrile children with RVS.
Objective: To determine the rate of bacteremia in children 3 to 36 months of age with fever and RVS.
Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of all patients 3 to 36 months of age with a temperature > or =39 degrees C seen during a 5 1/2-year period in the Emergency Department of a tertiary care pediatric hospital. From this group those with a discharge diagnosis of croup, varicella, bronchiolitis or stomatitis and no apparent concomitant bacterial infection were considered to have an RVS. The rate of bacteremia was determined for those subjects with RVS who had blood cultures.
Results: Of 21,216 patients 3 to 36 months of age with a temperature > or =39 degrees C, 1347 (6%) were diagnosed with an RVS. Blood cultures were obtained in 876 (65%) of RVS patients. Of patients who had blood cultures, true pathogens were found in only 2 of 876 (0.2%) subjects with RVS [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01, 0.8%]. The rate of bacteremia was 1 of 411 (0.2%) for subjects with bronchiolitis, O of 249 (0%) for subjects with croup, O of 123 (0%) for subjects with stomatitis and 1 of 93 (1.1%) for subjects with varicella.
Conclusions: Highly febrile children 3 to 36 months of age with uncomplicated croup, bronchiolitis, varicella or stomatitis have a very low rate of bacteremia and need not have blood drawn for culture.